Words Matter

Guest post by Jay R. Dostal

A friend and colleague of mine recently shared a project that another school did and I was overcome with emotions after watching it. I challenge you to view it and not feel the heartstrings being pulled as you see the looks on the faces of each of these kids. It inspired me to do the project at my own school and the results, in my opinion, were even more powerful because they were my kids.

What we can learn from this project is that words really do matter and can have a tremendous impact on those that receive them. EVERY child should be hearing these words EVERY day from their parents, their siblings, their teachers, and their community. After working with young adults my entire professional life, the one thing that I have found is that they typically respond well to words of encouragement and surpass expectations when given the chance. We need to stop the practice of labeling the next generation as being lazy, unmotivated, or

not being as outstanding as the ones that preceded them. These words are not helpful and certainly don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. I think David Bowie said it best when he remarked, “And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

ALL of our children matter and we need to use words that are uplifting and that encourage and motivate them. They need to be given a chance to demonstrate what they are capable of doing in a day and age that is filled with constant change and a blitzkrieg of information coming at them. The words we use with them are powerful and do matter. Let’s make these words count.

How do you use your words to be an uplifting influence?

Jay R. Dostal, EdD is principal of Kearney High School in Kearney, NE. He has been in education for 15 years, 10 of which have been in an administrative role. He is the father of two amazing kids, Brenna and Mason. His wife, Melanie, is a special education teacher. Jay is the 2016 Nebraska Principal of the Year.

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